Dec 8, 2020
Personalized Care Helps Texan with Kidney Disease Live Life to the Fullest

For 51-year-old Texan David Eteaki, every moment spent with his wife, children and grandchildren is precious.


After living with chronic kidney disease for years, Eteaki was prepared for the day his kidneys would fail. In fact, he had even worked with his doctor on a plan to start dialysis treatment at home when that day came. Still, he worried about how his diagnosis would impact his ability to be present with his family.


What Eteaki didn’t expect was having an entire team give an additional layer of support to help manage his health and enable more precious moments, which is exactly what DaVita Integrated Kidney Care (IKC) provided.


DaVita IKC works  with health insurers, providers and health systems to give comprehensive care to people in various stages of kidney disease. These patients often struggle with many, serious medical conditions beyond kidney disease. So the team’s true power is its ability to manage a patient’s health holistically, including other complex chronic conditions.


The average person living with kidney failure has four chronic conditions and spends 11 days in the hospital each year. Managing doctor’s appointments and prescriptions, along with understanding how different medical conditions affect kidney disease, can be challenging.


That’s where DaVita IKC’s integrated care model makes a difference. Patients have access to a nephrologist-led care team with expertise across medical disciplines, including pharmacy, behavioral health, educational resources, advanced tools and technologies and more.


Collaborative Model Ensures that the Right Care is Delivered at the Right Time


Eteaki’s care journey has been filled with ups and downs. He suffered a heart attack six months into his dialysis treatment. Then, he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Both issues led to a hospital stay. Through it all, Eteaki has continued his dialysis treatment at home. He credits the collaboration between DaVita IKC, his physicians and the team at his dialysis center for helping him stay on track – especially his dedicated nurse, Pam Fassione, R.N.


“Pam knows everything about me – at the dialysis center and at home,” explained Eteaki. “Our weekly conversations are like pep talks. With my care team at DaVita, it’s amazing to see so many people involved in keeping me well. I am more than just a number.”


A unique element of Eteaki’s program within DaVita IKC is an in-depth monthly review of complex patient cases by a panel of clinical experts from both his DaVita care team and his health insurance provider. This collaboration drives greater understanding of a patient’s care journey and helps to identify potential changes to therapeutic interventions. It also reveals that while predictive analytics can help a care team know where to focus, there is no replacement for human connection to truly help a patient.


While preparing for Eteaki’s monthly DaVita IKC case review, Fassione noticed a concerning uptick in his iron levels. She investigated further and found that he had been taking double the iron supplement he likely needed. She alerted Eteaki’s DaVita care team, which worked with his outside physician to immediately update the prescription orders. Soon his iron levels declined to a normal reading, avoiding other potentially life-threatening conditions that could’ve developed like liver disease and worsening heart problems.


According to Fassione, everyone could benefit from integrated kidney care. “I see myself as the glue that holds things together,” she said. “My patients could be doing everything they can to stay healthy, but sometimes things happen that are out of their control. That’s true for David. Although he’s gone through a lot, he remains gracious, poised and committed to his health.”


Fassione reflected that the David Eteaki who was struggling a few months ago likely wouldn’t recognize himself today. He is getting ready to return to work and, through the support of his DaVita IKC team, is progressing toward his dream of someday receiving a kidney transplant.